Production company
Pieter van Huystee Film
Noordermarkt 37-39, 1015 NA Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 20 421 0606 / Fax: +31 20 638 6255

Farsi with English subtitles


Running time
54' minutes

Land of origine
The Netherlands

Frank Scheffer

Michael Dreyer
Frank Scheffer

Director of Photography
Melle van Essen

Harold Jalving

Daan Wierda

Pieter van Huystee

Line producer
Rosan Boersma

Senior producer
Sylvia Baan

Commissioning Editor
Saskia van Schaik (VPRO)
Sonja Schneider (ZDF/3sat)

This film is supported by
The Dutch Cultural Broadcast Foundation, CoBO Fund

World premiere
June 12th 2009, Doku Arts Festival in Amsterdam

Broadcast premiere
June 26th 2009

World sales
Pieter van Huystee Film
Pieter van Huystee cell: +31 6 1747 9860 /

Festival requests
Curien Kroon

Curien Kroon / Pieter van Huystee Film
Phone: +31 20 421 0606 /

To be and not to be

"In the Islamic country Iran, music is considered an unimportant art. The spoken word is regarded by Persians as much more important. For them the poetry of a poet like Hafez is the highest that can be achieved in the arts. When they hear music, their first question will be what it is saying. The poetry of abstract sound is something they cannot understand. Persians simply cannot listen and I want to do something about that." Those are the words of the Persian conductor and composer Nader Mashayekhi.

In Frank Scheffer's new film, the Dutch director follows the Iranian composer Nader Mashayekhi back to Tehran, while he struggles with the foundation of his Tehran Philharmonic Orchestra. Mashayekhi had previously brought the music of modern composers like John Cage to Iran and a performance of Bach's St. John Passion, almost unbelievable projects in times of the official conservative and radical cultural policies of the country. The Iranian composer worked and lived in Vienna for 28 years and after an invitation by Iranian musicians he returned to his home country.

Scheffer's film reveals rather a cultural philisophical than a political approach. The film shows another image of life in Iran, looking at young Iranian musicians and how they perceive and experience playing contemporary western music and what it means to them. By integrating visuals with the rhythms of the compositions a captivating, spiritual and melancholic journey emerges, not only concerning the question of being an artist in Iran nowadays.